Health visitor postcode lottery16th April 2007
According to a survey by the Family and Parenting Institute (FPI), parents in England may face a health visitor "postcode lottery."
The survey of primary care trusts revealed significant regional variations in the number of children allocated per health visitor. Workloads ranged from one health visitor for every 160 children under five, to one health visitor per 1,140 under fives.
The FPI urged the government to maintain the quality of this service for all parents. The institute said the survey revealed "parents face a postcode lottery when it comes to accessing help from their health visitor".
The FPI would like the government to make certain all parents can see health visitors and called for intensive services and improved training. A separate YouGov poll showed 75% of the 4,775 parents surveyed wanted support and advice from a trained health visitor.
Mary MacLeod, the institute's Chief Executive, said: "Our research clearly shows that parents already value the service they receive... yet these figures show that this service is under threat. In some PCTs there is now a shocking lack of provision."
She made the point that as the service was under governmental review, parents should be vigilant to "what they are saying and act on it."
Amicus, a major trade union, published data in February indicating the number of health visitors in England were at their lowest level in 12 years. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health told the BBC over 300 health visitors were being trained, with numbers expected to rise in 2008. She also confirmed that the department was allocating £7m for 10 parenting support sites.
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Title: Health visitor postcode lottery
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 2541
Date Added: 16th Apr 2007